Near the end of their "X"
tour, the Australian band INXS had what was arguably the performance at the
peak of their career: performing live at Wembley Stadium in London on July 13,
1991. It was a sold-out show, with 72,000 fans packed in, and it was a
top-notch show as well, with INXS in fine form and excited to be there. No
expense was spared in filming the concert, with multiple cameras, high-quality
audio equipment, and even a helicopter for aerial shots; in fact, it cost so
much to film the show that the INXS band members actually earned almost nothing
that day. In retrospect, though, that expense was more than justified, as it
lets viewers have a front-row seat to a great concert, years later.
Actually, it's a lot better
than a front-row seat: the camera work is very well done, conveying the energy
of the show and enthusiasm of the crowd while giving a close-up look at the
band in action, as if you were right on stage with them. The editing is also
very nicely done, feeling as dynamic as the music but never jumping around too
The Live Baby Live
concert is packed full of great music, and it's clear that INXS is having a
great time, too; they seem relaxed and at time a bit playful, especially lead
singer Michael Hutchence, but the focus is always squarely on the music, with
no distracting theatrics. (One great moment is when Hutchence is about to start
a slower song and he tells the audience "No waving and no cigarette
It had been a while since I
listened to any INXS, so I was very pleasantly surprised by how many great
songs are performed here in Live Baby Live. The concert opens with the
energetic "Guns in the Sky" and closes with the equally dynamic
"Devil Inside," and in the 19 other songs in between they pull out a
lot of hits. I could tell you which ones are good, but honestly, there are no
duds here. You might as well just check out the play list and see for yourself
that Live Baby Live offers a great slate of music for any fan of INXS:
Guns in the Sky
Send a Message
Know the Difference
By My Side
Hear That Sound
The Loved One
What You Need
Need You Tonight
Never Tear Us Apart
Who Pays the Price
The concert footage was
originally shot for television broadcast, and is in its original 1.33:1 aspect
ratio. I was quite pleased with how it looked overall. There's some grain
visible at times, and in very detail-intensive shots (like panning over a
stadium full of 72,000 people...) the image is rather blurry, but these aren't
major issues. What viewers will appreciate is the clean print, the bright,
vivid colors, and the overall attractive look of the footage.
Three soundtrack choices are
available: a remastered Dolby 5.1 and a DTS 5.1, and the original Dolby 2.0.
(The default is the 5.1). A big "thumbs up" should go to the
remastering crew, as the two new tracks are a huge improvement over the
original. The DTS and the Dolby 5.1 are very similar; both provide a full,
clear sound with good (if not exceptional) use of the surround channels. In
particular, the vocals are nicely distinct and in perfect balance with the
other elements of the track. The Dolby 2.0 track, on the other hand, is lackluster
compared to the others, with a much flatter sound and much less clarity. The
DTS does edge the 5.1 track out, slightly, with a bit more depth of sound; if
you have DTS capability I'd definitely choose the DTS track, but if you only
have 5.1 don't lose any sleep over it.
Live Baby Live has a
very nicely done section of special features. Topping the list is a 37-minute
documentary called "Wembley XS," focusing as its title suggests on
the group's Wembley performance, with interviews with all the band members
(except for the late Michael Hutchence) and their producer. Although the date
of the interviews isn't provided, it looks like they were done specifically for
the DVD; the combination of these retrospective interviews with backstage
footage from 1991 makes for a very well-rounded piece. The INXS members are
quite honest and down-to-earth in their interviews, making the documentary well
worth the time for all viewers, not just die-hard fans.
Another interview featurette is
"Talk Baby Talk" (25 minutes), which consists of interviews with the
band members on the day of the Wembley concert. It's quite interesting,
especially as it provides the "on the spot" counterpoint to the
retrospective "Wembley XS," but unfortunately the transfer quality is
very poor. The program is in black and white and is extremely grainy and worn.
It's watchable, though.
A bonus track is tucked away at
the end of the song list: it's "Lately," and is a six-minute piece
with the video footage consisting of clips from the Wembley concert. There's
also a photo gallery.
Lastly, the concert comes with
a full-length audio commentary from the band (they don't actually introduce
themselves, but I think they're all there, except for Hutchence of course.)
It's a good idea, in theory, but in practice they do a pretty terrible job:
it's clear that they just have no idea what to talk about! Fans of INXS will
probably enjoy dipping into this track, at least.
INXS: Live Baby Live is
a very well-done concert DVD, matching up a great collection of songs with an
excellent transfer and very good special features. Casual fans of INXS as well
as die-hard fans will want to pick this DVD up; it's highly recommended.